Kittitas County, WA – A Bonney Lake Police officer was among two people killed March 3 in an avalanche while snowmobiling, according to city officials.
Officer James Larsen, 41, and Zach Roundtree, 27, were killed at about 1:30 p.m. after the avalanche hit them while they were snowmobiling near Esmeralda Peak.
Kyle Ottwell, 26, was critically injured in the avalanche and airlifted to Seattle.
Ryan Journey, 27, was not seriously injured and able to free from himself from the avalanche.
Officer Larsen lived in Buckley. He was a 14-year veteran of the Bonney Lake Police Department. The officer had previously worked for the Yelm Police Department.
KIRO-TV reported that the area where the snowmobilers were killed was above 4,600 feet in elevation. That area is very remote and made communication difficult for responding authorities.
KIRO-TV reported that Yakima County Search and Rescue, King County and Chelan County aircrews, and snowmobilers assisted in the response.
Bonney Lake police officers were called to the scene and they escorted Officer Larsen to the Kittitas County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to the City of Bonney Lake.
"On behalf of the Sheriff's Office, there are just no words that will answer all the questions the friends and family have about why their loved ones were taken,” Under-Sheriff Clayton Myers said in a press release, according to KIRO. “Only patience, time and support will lessen that pain. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and we hope that some level of peace comes soon. The avalanche danger in many areas is still high, please be aware of the risks, as this marks the fifth avalanche death in the past seven days."
Mayor Neil Johnson ordered all city flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of Officer Larsen, according to the city’s Facebook page.
Officer Larsen is survived by his parents and two sisters.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Bonney Lake Police Officer James Larsen, both blood and blue. Godspeed, we will take the watch from here.
Thank you for your service.